“What is my lower brain and why is it keeping my higher brain from evolving?” would have been a great question to ask myself five years ago—and the answer was even more important.
I had been down the road of self-doubt once or twice before, struggling with anxiety, depression, pain, and many other issues that trouble most Americans these days. Why is that? Where did my brain change and when did the lower brain start blocking my higher brain from moving forward? Some would say that it could have been some early trauma in my life or, based on my history, that it was something that was triggered early on in my military career. Honestly, once I finally realized that I was in a place of darkness and how long I had been there, I cared less when the trauma occurred or what it was, and more of how to educate myself and make a change. On the surface, I was perfect and everything was fine in my life, but on the inside it was a different story. In the moment (or what I thought was in the moment), I wasn’t aware of anything wrong. I was stuck in my lower brain. I was struggling just like all of my mates were. But what I was struggling with was all the poor decisions that were completely out of character for me. I was living with the fact that I didn’t want change, even though I was miserable, and for the most part I was stuck worrying about the past, which was affecting my decisions in the moment and keeping me frozen in time. I was never here. I was always anxious about something. I couldn’t get out of that lower, more primitive brain. The layers I had built up as a part of my own self survival had taken over. They wouldn’t let me change, they wouldn’t let me love, and most of all, the disconnect I was feeling was getting bigger and bigger. All of this was a way for my body to set up shields to protect me, to keep my higher brain from being harmed. That makes sense if you’re being shot at on a daily basis, which I legitimately was at some points, but not for the rest of the time. It doesn’t help you be a good human and have space for growth and development. It doesn’t help you to connect to your spouse, kids, and family that you love. Once you begin to understand this, it can become even more overwhelming at first, so all those stresses, anxieties, and depressions become even more real. But, that was the beginning of a real change for me in my life. It was the first time in my life that I was recognizing and tapping into the higher brain, spiritual side, and mindfulness, which meant more meaningful relationships and finally learning how to free up that part of my brain that had been keeping me from doing so many of those life goals that I had always wanted to do.
So what to do next:
Once I was simply more aware of my thoughts and my decisions, things around me started to shift without me actually changing much of my behavior yet. I had been running around with so many protective layers around my lower brain and that primitive part of my brain had done a great job, but it was now time to start peeling back those layers, one by one. It’s the part that wants you to be safe, avoid change. It’s only when we free space in our primitive mind that the higher mind can begin to do its job. For me, it became very clear that step one was to start taking care of myself. Let that primitive part of your brain start to hear, hey, I am ok. I don’t need my shield up to protect me 24 hours a day. With that, you begin to free up space to tap into that more evolved higher brain, whether that’s through a hike, yoga, or sensory deprivation tanks. For me, the sensory deprivation tanks, or float tanks, were the most effective tool to finally start peeling away those shields and layers. The silence and solitude of floating freed up that space for change. It was like rocket fuel for my subconscious. I took off, and the changes came fast. At first, I found myself fighting the subconscious, trying to block it in order to protect myself. But I also liked the changes, and the more and more space I freed, the easier and easier those changes were to deal with. Beyond all else, never wanting to go back to that darkness kept me moving forward. Finally, all these things I had been wanting to do started coming to fruition. It is amazing and scary all at the same time. Through meditation and yoga, those inner critics started becoming less and less frequent. I’m not saying I am free from stress, anxiety, depression, and pain. Not at all. But I have the tools now to be a better person, not only for me but for everyone around me, and it started with taking care of myself first.
What’s stopping your mind from evolving? Think about it.
Make the change and don’t ever look back.
Own The Day